Potter fans, rejoice! The magical world birthed from JK Rowling’s profound imagination delivers a new chapter—an older chapter, with a focus on all kinds of otherworldly creatures and their mysterious ways.
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Newt Scamander, a mysterious wizard, has arrived in 1920s New York. Some 70 years before Harry Potter’s birth, we are introduced to the man behind one of the books he would later read (or, at least, we know Hermione did) during his schooling years at Hogwarts.
When he arrives, the world of magic is a hidden one; and this segregated society is not only denied knowledge of the magic inhabitants that shares its cityscape, they are also forbidden from socialising with one another.
The muggles (or nonmags, as the Americans call them) are blaming the mysterious destruction of some of their buildings on gas explosions, but Scamander suspects something more magical is at play. Before he can fully investigate, he himself becomes the target of an investigation, by an FBI-esque agent, who works for the NY equivalent of the Ministry of Magic (which, of course, has a very cool US acronym).
Suspicion intensifies surrounding Scamander’s presence, with many beginning to wonder if it’s not his pet beasts that may be somehow responsible for the destruction. This is a world pre-Voldemort, and there is another evil at play (but the identity is better held for the fans of the books).
Scamander will have to work with an unlikely group of witches and muggles to uncover the true beast that is threatening New York; and like all Potter heroes, he must do so without the support of the Ministry or those who govern order.
It’s great to be back in this truly fantastic world. What hasn’t changed with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is the wonderfully layered and historically charted world that is filled with magic and wonder. What has changed, and for the better, is the quality of special effects—and what a treat that is. Where the original Potter films came just as CGI was beginning to have an influence on storytelling, here the beasts are brought to life in a way that’s quite outstanding.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is also a story told about adult magicians. Where the Potter films are very focussed on the schoolyard and youthful verve, this film centres on adult characters, and how they deal with the very adult darkness that was presented previously. There’s still a childlike wonder to it all though, and you can’t help but have your imagination swept up on this wild ride.
Eddie Redmayne is every bit as awkward and affable as befits a man who prefers to spend his time with mythical creatures rather than humans, and he is ably accompanied by an exceptional cast, which includes Ezra Miller, Colin Farrell, Katherine Waterston and Alison Sudol.
All in all, this one more than lives up to the hype. Welcome back, Potter fans—it’s going to be a truly great adventure!
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Director: David Yates
Stars: Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol
Runtime: 2 hours 13 mins
Release Date: November 17
Reviewer Rating: 4/5
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